Friday Finds – 19th July

Friday Finds is a regular feature in which I collate and share interesting articles and posts on running/health/fitness which I’ve read recently. Some might be inspiring, some might be scientific, some might provoke debate. All are things I’ve found in some way thought-provoking.

Happy Friday! You may have noticed that I took a little bit of a blogging break while I was away on holiday, but never fear, I have plenty to share about the month so far and will catch you up with all the news (and photos. So. Many. Photos!) soon. In the meantime, let’s get back to the routine of sharing some articles on Friday. I suspect this one will be a bit of an odd mixture of things I’ve been storing over the past two or three weeks…

First up, a positive outcome to a high profile story from earlier this year. You might remember that some participants in the London marathon complained about the way they were treated during the race and, thankfully, organisers have listened and are implementing changes to ensure it doesn’t happen again. It really saddened me to read the original story, so I’m pleased that action has been taken and hope that those affected are able to return to the race for a far more positive experience.

On a lighter note, I was amused to read this piece about a recent school sports day. Events in our school are simply for pupils – no staff or parent races – but I know that up and down the country the prospect of parents racing can result in either a degree of worry and/or overly competitive performances. But we can all be reassured that even being an Olympic champion is no guarantee of success – just ask Mo Farah who was recently beaten by another dad who wasn’t exactly attired for sporting greatness!

Next up, a story of real commitment. A great thing about travelling is finding new places to run, but when we have specific training goals it can be a little stressful to make sure we find the best route. Step in two butlers at a high-end Italian hotel who not only found a route for a guest who was marathon training, but actually ran with him and joined him for the actual marathon. You certainly don’t get that kind of service everywhere!

Catching my eye today was this piece in which one researcher attempted to answer an interesting question: why do we walk with straight arms but run with them bent? The results of their research may surprise you! Got any theories?

And finally, if you like to share your runs on Strava, you may have noticed the different approaches people take to sharing their posts, from the default “morning run” to a lengthy mile by mile essay. Here’s a rundown of some of the different types. Which one are you?

Happy reading,
The Running Princess  

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Week In Review – Crawling to the Finish!

So much for getting back on track with consistent workouts as the school year drew to a close. Early in the week I got hit with symptoms which were either some kind of virus/cold my body fought off, or a product of complete and utter exhaustion. Either way I felt like death warmed up, set aside any effort to train and instead limped my way to the end of the week and the summer holidays.

Monday – Hatha yoga
Tuesday – 4 miles
Wednesday – rest
Thursday – rest
Friday – rest
Saturday – rest
Sunday – 4 miles

It all started out fine. I was about as refreshed as one can feel in the final week of term and enjoyed a relaxing Hatha class on Monday evening. I’ll not have another for about 3 weeks, so made the most of the time on my mat.

Even Tuesday morning was fine. I ran my usual 4 miles and felt better than last week. Naively, I thought I might actually make it through this last week, but later in the day I began to feel a bit of a scratch in my throat accompanied by the lethargy and achy feeling I usually get ahead of a cold. Certain I was just too tired (I get the same symptoms when I get really tired) I went to bed to sleep it off.

But this time sleeping it off didn’t work and I didn’t feel at my best heading to work on Wednesday. No coughs or sniffles, just a sore throat and those same aches so I was straight out of there at the end of the day and within an hour of the school bell I was tucked up in my bed and slept for a couple of hours. I actually did feel a bit better when I woke up so had some food, nipped out for my sports massage then had a bath before bed (where I had no problem getting right back to sleep!).

I knew a run on Thursday morning would be a bad idea so didn’t even bother setting my alarm. Instead, I got a bit more sleep then headed off for the last full day of the school year. I definitely felt better, but not back to 100% and actually by the end of the day was feeling really tired again so I skipped yoga and had another sleep. I woke up when Steve got home so that was my cue to get up and have dinner. My sister popped in for a bit then I opted for another bath before bed. And despite all the extra (and lengthy!) naps I had no problem sleeping so must have REALLY needed it as that’s not like me.

Funnily enough, I felt quite a lot better on Friday morning (nothing to do with knowing I only had a half day to work, I’m sure!).

I had a couple of classes first thing but then was done not just for the day or week, but the WHOLE SCHOOL YEAR!!! I got tidied up and enjoyed a bit of space to chat to colleagues before the bell – I even had a visitor!

For the first time in days I didn’t have a nap as soon as I got home – in fact I think I stayed awake for the whole rest of the day! The weather was good for much of the week and I was able to spend a couple of hours in the garden reading during the afternoon. So nice after weeks of pretty “meh” weather.

I had considered parkrun on Saturday morning, but was still feeling really worn out and decided it was much more important to me to feel refreshed and able to run/train lots in the coming weeks than to squeeze in one parkrun that might result in me later feeling ill or being more prone to injury. I’ve no idea where this startling level of common sense came from, but I also knew it was the right decision when I didn’t feel too bad about missing out. Instead, I had a quiet morning getting some of my stuff tidied up then joined Steve and his brothers for a bacon croissant before going to get my hair done. Steve picked me up afterwards so we could run some errands, after which I needed a nap before an evening in front of the telly. So rock and roll haha!

By Sunday I felt ready to try a little run. I’d been keeping an eye on my resting heart rate and it was back to normal after plenty of rest. My throat was no longer sore and no other symptoms had materialised, so with a quick visit to my parents’ house needed, I decided to run there the long way round so I would have a 4 mile loop. I felt absolutely fine and probably could have done more but stuck to being sensible since I hadn’t run in a few days.

Steve was away at a race just outside of Edinburgh so with a bit of time to myself I decided it was finally time to have a go at the craft project I’ve been wanting to try since Easter. It should be noted that I don’t have an artistic bone in my body so trying something that needed craft supplies (and repeated watching of a YouTube tutorial!) was a firm step outside of my comfort zone. Presenting, my first pair of DIY mouse ears. They may not bear terribly close scrutiny, but I’m pleased with the results.

Once I had cleaned up the sequin storm from making the bow (damn, those things get EVERYWHERE!) Steve and I headed out for a refreshment.

And now with some work-free weeks stretching ahead of me, it’s time to turn my attention to my holiday – pretty sure some sun lounger time will soon sort me out!

Are you good at arts and crafts?
What are your summer plans?

Race Report – Chariots Of Fire Beach Race 2019

Just a week after the Edinburgh half marathon, we were racing again but this time it was much more of a fun run experience.

This time last year we entered the Chariots of Fire 5k beach race for the first time, and although there was an issue with the turning point on the route so it was short, we still very much enjoyed the event and vowed to be back. Granted, we left it a little late to get our entries in this year, but we were both looking forward to it.

Pre-race information is really detailed and helpful, but we were happy we knew what we were doing, as it hadn’t really changed and we know the area fairly well. Sadly the weather wasn’t looking too promising again, but that wasn’t going to dampen our spirits.

We left at a much more reasonable time, despite having to drive for an hour and wanting to get there in good time to snag a decent parking spot. Thanks to the midday race start, this meant we were still able to be fairly leisurely.

Since participants are encouraged to wear white, I dug up the skirt (I suspect it’s actually a tennis skirt) I acquired for the race last year and paired it with my 2018 event T-shirt. Because of my later entry I wasn’t able to pre-order a 2019 one and I neglected to take cash with me to get one on the day. No big deal!

Once parked by the West Sands we collected our race numbers, nipped to the loo and returned to the car to get organised and relax for a bit. As race time drew nearer we headed down onto the beach. Steve wanted a warm up and right at that moment the rain began. Typical! Fortunately, it didn’t last too long and it actually became much brighter. What was the one thing I didn’t bring with me? That’s right, sunglasses. I honestly didn’t think I would need them so didn’t pick up a pair and here was me now squinting into the brightness. Luckily Steve had a pair in the car that he lent me, however they were pretty scratched so I think I got an interesting insight into what cataracts would be like while I was wearing them!

As we got ready to run, Steve bumped into someone he knew and I spotted some friends and headed over to speak to them. We then joined the crowds at the start line for the pre-race announcements. For some reason we couldn’t hear these too well but I knew the drill – run to the turn at the piper (no way was this going to be in the wrong place this time!) then run back, hand in my timing chip and collect my goodies. Simple!

The start is always marked by the strains of Vangelis and it must look (and sound) amazing to have all these white-clad runners dashing off across the sand. The majority of the course is on the wetter, packed sand so I had opted for my Inov-8 Mudclaws as I thought they would be best on this surface and I was really happy with my decision as they felt good underfoot.

There was some softer sand for a short stretch right before the turn, but it wasn’t too bad and before I knew it I was on my way back…into a headwind once again!

The headwind did slow me a little, but I kept a steady effort throughout and was happy with my run. I have to say, the return section was a little deceptive as I kept spotting, then losing sight of, the finish gantry so was just gauging the distance by my watch. Soon enough, I could hear Vangelis drifting towards me along the sand and did my best for a sprint finish. It later turned out that there was a photographer there, which clearly I didn’t spot. Ha!

Photo: Chris Wallard Photography

I returned my chip and collected my medal before locating Steve for a few beach photos. I also took some slow-motion video of me running by the water – it had to be done!

After catching up with a few people, it was time to collect the most important of the post-race goodies: a fudge doughnut and bottle of beer. The fudge doughnuts didn’t make it out of the car park, but we kept the beers (which this year had a race-branded label which was pretty cool) for later that evening. For those in more of a hurry, the medal was also a bottle opener!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A beach race is such a different race experience for me and although running on the wet sand can be rather energy sapping, it’s a great thing to do. I think this one is going to become a staple in our annual race plans now and if you can get to St Andrews in early June I would definitely recommend signing up. You won’t regret it.

Week In Review – Running Out of Oomph!

This week definitely felt a little easier than the previous couple of weeks, but it being the second last week of the school year here in Scotland meant that it felt a little bit like being at mile 18 of a marathon: the bulk of it is done and the real exhaustion is setting in, but the finish line is just that little bit too far away! Still, I made it through the week and now there’s just 4.5 days left before I can properly recharge my batteries, soak up some sunshine and get caught up on my life again! Training-wise there was a little shifting around, so here’s how things ended up:

Monday – Hatha yoga
Tuesday – 4 miles
Wednesday – 4.5 miles
Thursday – Ashtanga yoga
Friday – PT session with Steve
Saturday – parkrun
Sunday – 10 miles

It was a quiet yoga class on Monday evening. I guess we’re at that point in the year when lots of people, especially those with kids, have lots of other commitments that take up their time, or they are away on holiday. Many of us in the class have been feeling pretty tired so we had a class designed not just to build strength and flexibility, but also to help re-energise a little. Only one more class left in this current term-time block, but my teacher hopes to have a few classes over the summer so fingers crossed I can still get my Monday night yoga fix!

On Tuesday morning I was up and out the door for my usual 4 mile run and it soon became apparent that every ounce of weariness in my body had located itself in my legs! There was no soreness or heaviness, it was just one of those days where I felt like I was wading through treacle and even a slow pace felt like hard work. At this point in the year (and with everything that’s been going on) I’m happy to recognise that this will have an impact, so rather than worry about performance I’ll simply focus on consistency, on getting outside for some fresh air and headspace while I keep my legs turning over. There’s plenty of time over the summer to sharpen up my pace once I’m feeling more rested.

That said, I actually noticed a big difference in my performance when I ran on Wednesday evening. Wednesday was our wedding anniversary and since it was a school night we opted to celebrate at home with fajitas and fizz. However I was a little concerned that this particular combination may not sit well in my digestive system when it came to an early run, so opted to run on Wednesday evening rather than Thursday morning to avoid a potentially uncomfortable (and unplanned!) “sprint finish”. I had actually spent a good part of the afternoon out on our playing fields watching sports day and miraculously it was really nice weather, so the chance to run in minimal clothing on a nice summer evening was pretty appealing. There hasn’t been much in the way of good summer weather so far this year so it was good to take advantage of the opportunity. Almost immediately, I noticed that I felt so much better  – springier and like running was a bit less effort – and my overall pace was much more pleasing too. I do like running in the evening, but the morning runs definitely suit my routine and energy levels better these days so I’ll be sticking with those for the time being.

Post-run I made the fajitas, which featured the debut of my new “tortilla warmer” which I picked up in the wondrous middle aisle of Aldi last week – surely not just me that loves a wander along there to pick up random goodies?

And Steve had made one of his signature sherry trifles for dessert. Yum!

The change to my running schedule meant that I didn’t have to get up quite so early on Thursday, but it did feel weird not to be going out for a run. The weather was still good so it would have been nice to be out early and feeling that coolness that still hints at a warmer day to come. That said, a little extra sleep was good and I still had some energy when I arrived at my Ashtanga class that evening. Sadly the regular teacher was ill so we had a “substitute teacher”. She seemed nice enough, but taught the class very differently and I don’t think I always respond well to that as my practice has adapted to suit the teacher we usually have. I was hoping to have another go at the headstand, but we didn’t do it in this class so it will have to wait another week.

I had plans on Friday evening, but since we’re close to the end of term I was able to leave work quite swiftly at the end of the day and make it back to Steve’s studio for a PT session. He managed to set up another different arm circuit for me and although I am definitely beginning to feel more strength, by the end of the session my arms were ready to give up!

After this I headed home to get showered and changed for an evening out with my mum and my sister. We were heading to the concert hall for a show by three of the male pros from Strictly Come Dancing and I’ve been looking forward to this for a while, not just because I was getting to see the dancers, but also because I knew that it would mean my summer holidays were just around the corner. My dad was the chauffeur for the evening and he picked me up in time for us to get to the concert hall for our dinner (I had chicken strips followed by a gourmet burger).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We had great seats and the show was fantastic – really high energy and lots of fun banter between the guys (who were obviously playing up to a predominantly female crowd!). This show was actually quite early in the tour but you wouldn’t have known it. A fantastic evening.

Saturday was also destined to be a busy day so I “only” had time for parkrun, and had to skip running there and back. I know my body is tired so had no real aim for this run, but I ended up running a little faster than last week. Somehow my pace is still improving, no doubt because I have been very consistent lately, which I’m happy about.

We seemed to be home so quickly since we had the car, but we wanted time to get properly cleaned up since we were going to an event to celebrate the life of someone the world lost recently. It was fairly low-key, but not an occasion to be parkrun fresh!

The first part of the event took place at the top of the hill overlooking Perth so we had a slow walk up there and listened to a few people saying some words in tribute. The weather was perfect and afterwards I took a few minutes to look at the views. It’s been a while since I was up there.

Right in the middle of this photo, just below the river, is the pond where I do SUP yoga.

Then, there was a small gathering for some food and drinks. Although we were there for a sad reason, it was nice to reconnect with some people we’ve not seen in a while.

After all that exertion we both had a short nap before a relaxing evening at home.

For my Sunday run I decided on 10 miles, but was in absolutely no hurry to get out so took my time getting organised and out the door. Steve wasn’t feeling great so he got some extra sleep while I was out – totally unlike him but he was much better when I got back. It was a bit of a strange run as the temperature didn’t sound all that high and it was pretty dull, but it felt really muggy so even in shorts and a T-shirt I was absolutely dripping by the time I finished. I may have also inadvertently infiltrated an event taking place on the Inch. It was a fundraiser for the local football team where participants were encouraged to walk or run up to 3 laps (personal choice – no, I don’t understand either!) whilst wearing blue (the team colours). I had planned on running a lap as part of my route and when I got down there I noticed some marshals but nobody who seemed to be taking part in an event, so it was onto when I met someone I knew in one of the marshal roles that I found out. But as I completed my lap I found myself behind a small group walking around and since I was wearing my Edinburgh finishers’ T-shirt, which is the same blue as the football team colours, I think some people thought I was taking part as I was aware of some shouts and claps as I ran past. Oops! How do these things always happen to me? 😂

Once home it was time for the glamorous job of some housework. I’d have left it a couple of days longer, but my parents were visiting in the afternoon so I had to have everything nice and tidy. At least having visitors meant we could have tea and a slice of cake!

Now just this one, endless last week before school finishes for the summer. I keep telling myself I can make it!

Are you going on holiday this summer?
Ever had anyone think you were part of a race/event when you were simply out for a run?

Race Report – EMF Half Marathon 2019

The races in the Edinburgh Marathon Festival are hardly new to me, however this year was the first time I had returned since the infamous four races in one weekend extravaganza of 2015! (You can read about that here and here). Since that time the starting point (and therefore the first handful of miles of the route) has changed so this was an interesting combination of the new and the familiar.

The 8am race start meant an early departure for our drive to Edinburgh. We opted to park in our usual Sunday spot in town then walk from there to the start area around the university. The weather forecast had not been encouraging and the drive through was pretty miserable, but at least it wasn’t cold.

Once at the start area there was a slightly chaotic feel, probably because by this point I REALLY wanted to find the toilets and although there were plenty of giant maps up, I was struggling to get my bearings. In the end we got a race volunteer to point us in the right direction and headed to one of the university buildings that had been opened up. We then went our separate ways as Steve and I were in different start pens and we had to find the right baggage lorries (which were also in different places). This was also a bit chaotic as I quickly found myself part of a group of runners desperately seeking baggage lorries and not finding any volunteers who actually knew where we had to go! After much pushing through crowds, I eventually found the right place but the lorry I should be using had already been closed up. Fortunately, a volunteer at another one took my bag and assured me they would take it to the right place in the finish area. With that done, I made my way to my start point and waited in my disposable poncho and “emergency hat” whilst listening to all the pre-race announcements.

From where I was I couldn’t actually see the start line as the road curved around a corner, however I did hear the starting horn and could see people begin to inch forward. The pen I was in was actually pretty well organised, with event crew at the start walking everyone forwards towards the line. It probably took me 6 or 7 minutes to get there and get underway.

However I still found the first part of the route quite congested as there were sections that changed from quite wide streets to much narrower ones and this led to some sudden halts. As a result, I kept my eyes on where my feet were going so missed some of the key points of interest – the photos are from later in the day when we were returned to the start by the event buses.

Greyfriars Bobby

I had worn a lightweight waterproof jacket, but within the first couple of miles it was off and tied around my waist. It did rain again later, but by that point I was past caring about being wet and just accepted it. It was actually quite refreshing!

Once we were through Holyrood Park, I did feel like I had a bit more space and enjoyed winding my way towards the coast. Although early, there was still some pretty good crowd support, with lots of really encouraging people along the route. I very much enjoyed some of the signs, my favourite being “Don’t Quit Like Theresa!”. It took me a moment, but once I got the reference I was giggling to myself for the next few minutes. 

At this point I was ticking along nicely with the aim of a sub-2 hour finish. I knew I wasn’t in PB shape (anything under 1:53) but thought a sub-2 was within current my fitness level.

Reaching the coast, I was returned to familiar territory and knew I would keep running along there – past plenty more vociferous support – to about the 11 mile mark, then there would be a turn back to the finish. This meant that from about 9 miles onwards I could see the faster runners heading back towards the finish line. I spotted Steve but he didn’t see me despite my manic waving, and noted that everyone I saw was grimacing. I was still pretty comfortable and on-pace for my sub-2 so figured they must all be working pretty hard.

And then I reached the turn.

Suddenly, the reason for the grimaces was abundantly clear as I ran smack into a headwind that I knew I would be running into for the rest of the race. Ok, so it was “only” for 2 miles, but that’s still quite an effort after 11 miles of running! Fortunately, there was a water station so I walked through that to grab a drink and take a moment to gather myself before getting my head down and pushing on. I had my watch set so I could see my average pace and while I knew my last couple of miles would be slower, I still thought I could sneak it under the 2 hours I had targeted.

Finally, I saw the point where the route turns off into the finish area. There’s always a great crowd here and as the finish gantry came into view I picked up the pace to run over the line. Another half marathon in the bag and my time of 1:59:09 meant I had reached my target. I love it when a plan comes together!

I collected my post-race goodies – medal, bottle of water, High 5 tablets and a little blue box that contained my T-shirt, foil blanket and some hot/cold gels. The boxes are a great idea as they are far more environmentally sustainable than plastic bags. Another thing I noticed was that while there were small plastic bottles of water available along the course (which we were encouraged to toss into recycling bins around the aid stations) the bottles were not labelled so perhaps this event is moving away from having a bottled water company as a big sponsor. An interesting move when so often this is one of the biggest sponsors.

I found Steve, headed over to the baggage lorries and collected my bag which actually had been taken to the right place for me. Because of the forecast I had packed a full change of clothes and was soaking wet, so a change was needed. There then followed the least glamorous change of clothes of my life…in a portable toilet! I can confirm that it is possible, but it wouldn’t be my first choice if another option was available.

On a nicer day we might have stayed at the finish for a while, but this time we just headed straight off to the event buses which are at a park and ride about a mile from the finish. Runners and spectators can buy a ticket in advance and while the queue can be quite long, there are loads of buses so it keeps on moving. This is generally quite well organised, but the hike to the buses is definitely one of my least favourite things about this event. I don’t think there are any better solutions though, so just accept it’s how it is.

I was pretty hungry by this point so ate the cereal bar I had been handed at the finish and began dreaming of the post-race meal we would get once back in Edinburgh. Clearly I wasn’t the only one as I could hear others talking about how they had been dreaming of Domino’s pizza for the last few miles and when the bus went past a McDonald’s there was an audible groan from the passengers!

We were delivered back to the start area, which by now was being dismantled as the marathon itself had started, and we walked back over to town to get some food – McDonald’s remains my post-race food of choice even though I would be unlikely to want it at any other time!

We then headed to Hotel Chocolat for “dessert” before getting back in the car for the drive home. Ironically, it was much nicer weather by this time!

Overall, I liked the variation in the route but definitely caution against being distracted as it can be a bit congested at the start. I would also recommend getting to the start as early as you can in order to get your bearings and drop off baggage without too much stress. And remember that once you’re finished, you will still have a bit of a walk to the event buses to get back into Edinburgh again. In my experience, race day in Edinburgh is either roasting hot or pouring. We got pouring on this occasion, but for me it didn’t spoil the race. Not an event I do regularly these days, but it’s nice to be involved from time to time and I’m sure this won’t be my last EMF experience.

Friday Finds – 21st June

Friday Finds is a regular feature in which I collate and share interesting articles and posts on running/health/fitness which I’ve read recently. Some might be inspiring, some might be scientific, some might provoke debate. All are things I’ve found in some way thought-provoking.

Happy Friday one and all! This week I’m actually organised and have written this in advance as I’m spending Friday evening at a show with my mum and sister. I’m sure I’ll share more in my next Week In Review so you can watch out for that. In the meantime, here are the things that have been catching my eye lately.

I want to start with one of my favourite things: running data. I have written before about previous studies from Run Repeat and their latest study, The State of Running 2019, is a fascinating and in-depth study of global participation. For me, the things that really stand out are the findings that there are now more female runners than male (go girls!), that runners are older (good news for me!) and that travelling to race is increasingly popular (definitely something I enjoy). It’s really worth taking some time to check out the graphs and data in the report, and I bet you won’t be able to resist using the comparison tool to see how you measure up!

Next up, a little something to watch. As I’ve previously mentioned, Eliud Kipchoge is going to have another crack at the sub-2 hour marathon later this year. The more I watch Kipchoge race, the more I like him and now we have the opportunity to follow along with his preparation for the sub-2 attempt. I suspect for us mere mortals simply watching his training will be exhausting!

Ultrarunning may not be my thing, but it’s still an aspect of running that I find fascinating. Recently I’ve very much been relying on running to give me some headspace, reset my mind and process some difficult times, so when I saw this article examining the impact ultrarunning has had on the lives of the contributors, I knew it would be one I would want to share. I’m quite sure many of the benfits they discuss will apply to runners everywhere, regardless of how often or how far they run.

On the subject of ultrarunning, I recently came across this excerpt from The Rise of the Ultrarunners, a new book from Adharanand Finn. I’ve previously enjoyed reading his books and his newspaper columns, so this will no doubt be another one for my reading list.

And finally, if you enjoy movies then a movie about running will no doubt be one you want to see. I’ve come across a few bits and pieces mentioning the movie Brittany Runs A Marathon, and having watched the trailer, I’m now looking forward to having a chance to see this later in the year. Can you relate to anything here?

Happy reading,
The Running Princess

(Two) Week(s) In Review – Let’s Catch Up!

Did you miss me? Things got pretty darn busy over here for a while there and something had to give. On this occasion, I decided a short break from the blog was going to be needed as other things – including my own sanity! – had to take priority. So for the last couple of weeks I’ve been super busy with a lot of work-related stuff, but since I knew it would only be for a short time it was (mostly) ok. Now that things are more settled, I’m back and here to catch you up on some of the highlights from the last couple of weeks of training and life. Here we go!

Week 1:
Monday – Hatha yoga
Tuesday – 4 miles
Wednesday – 5k
Thursday – Ashtanga yoga
Friday – 4 miles + PT session with Steve
Saturday – rest
Sunday – 10k + SUP yoga

To be honest, this is the week that really threw a spanner in the works. There was a lot of stuff going on and as you can see I moved a lot of my training around in order to fit it in. Yes, I could have set some sessions aside, but running is my chance to get fresh air and clear my head, it’s something I need to maintain good mental health and in this particular week I needed to make sure I had that time. The week actually kicked off with a day off work for a really localised holiday, and I took the chance to set work aside, relax and reset as much as I could. My yoga class at the end of the day was the perfect way to finish.

Tuesday was also pretty normal as far as training went. It was an inset day at work and I headed out before hand for a nice, steady run. To find balance, I did some home yoga at the end of the day to get moving again after a day spent sitting in meetings.

It was from Wednesday that things really changed around. This Wednesday was Global Running Day and while my current weekly plan doesn’t have me running on a Wednesday, I was keen to mark the occasion so got up to run 5k before work. It was pretty soggy, but still a nice way to begin my day. Our new school timetable began that day (we change timetable when the seniors come back from study leave as there is a month before the summer holidays) and I always find it exhausting meeting new classes and no longer having familiar groups in front of me.

After 2 days in a row of running, I didn’t run on the Thursday and instead looked forward to my Ashtanga class that evening. I had missed it the week before when I was just too tired to head out, and the week before that was a different teacher who led us through a rather different session, so I initially felt a bit rusty, but as the class went on I felt better and better. My headstand was pretty poor though!

In another change from the norm, I was up again on Friday for a run. It definitely felt odd to be running on a Friday, but still good. That evening I then went down to the studio for a PT session with Steve. I’m still wanting to work on my arms/upper body right now so he has been setting up a different circuit each week using a combination of weights, TRX and some exercises using my own body weight. Tough but worthwhile.

The reason for the Friday run was that, most unusually, I was missing parkrun on the Saturday. Sadly, this was because I was going to a funeral. I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t considered a bit of tourism on the way there (I had to drive about an hour to get to the funeral location) but there was no way to make the logistics of a run followed by turning up appropriately attired and fragrant for such a sombre occasion work. This time, being at that funeral was way more important than notching up another parkrun, and I didn’t want to run later in the day as I knew I would be tired and still had all the usual Saturday chores to do. So a Saturday “off” it was,

Sunday was a much happier day. I began with a 10k run first thing and ran quite hard – clearly my body was needing to feel that sense of “aliveness” only a hard run can give you.

Then after a light breakfast and change of clothes, I was off to the outdoor centre for a SUP yoga session. Steve came along to watch so I was able to get a few photos this time.

We then had a lovely lunch in the cafe (back to my usual chicken mayo sandwich) with almost the whole SUP group before heading home to relax as I knew there was another testing week ahead of me.

Week 2:
Monday – Hatha yoga
Tuesday – 4 miles
Wednesday – rest
Thursday – 4 miles + Ashtanga yoga
Friday – PT session with Steve
Saturday – parkrun sandwich
Sunday – 8 miles

This past week was a tough one. It had felt recently like the universe was being particularly cruel, and having just attended a funeral on Saturday, my week began with (almost) a morning in school followed by attending another funeral. As a tribute to someone’s life and influence, it was very fitting, but an emotional drain and hard way to spend a Monday. I accepted from that point that the week was going to feel long, that I was going to feel even more tired and that I was just going to have to do my best to keep on going. I made sure to get to my yoga class that evening, but will admit to finding the start of the class difficult as we were invited to reflect on our day and let go of the stresses and strains – my emotions were still running high and a tear or two rolled down my cheek at that point. After that, the class was a welcome distraction from everything that had happened over the previous few days.

While sleeping later on Tuesday morning might have felt good, for my own self care it was far more important that I headed out for a run. Pace was unimportant, this was a run to give me a bit of quiet time to process the previous day before going to work. I certainly felt better than I had at bedtime, but still a little emotional and needed to get on with things as a distraction. As if sensing it, one of the neighbourhood cats came over fr a “chat” when I arrived home.

I did, however, give myself a rest on Wednesday. I had an appointment in town after school so took the chance to run a few errands I hadn’t got to at the weekend then did a little home yoga when I got back to the house. A restful evening was in order after that, although there was still a little of my exam work left to do.

Once again, I was up on Thursday to run. I definitely noticed it feeling much harder to get up, but once I was out and moving it felt good.

I made it to my Ashtanga class again in the evening and enjoyed a quiet class where we could flow through the postures. I actually felt pretty good and my body felt strong, but I struggled with headstand again. It’s a while now since that one has gone well for me, and while I can accept where my body and mind are right now, I’m curious as to the cause: is it a physical issue from not doing as much yoga and other training as I have in the past, is it all in my head and I’m overthinking it, or am I simply so tired that I just don’t have the energy for a harder pose right now? It will be interesting to see how this unfolds over the summer when I’m more refreshed and have more time for training.

Miraculously, I made it to Friday and Steve was able to fit me in for a session. He had quite a tough arm workout for me this time and I REALLY felt it as I was working. While I was there, we talked about having some extra sessions in my week during the summer holidays so I can go into the autumn feeling strong. I know this will also help my running so is probably my summer goal now.

Steve was out that night so I had a quiet night with the kittens watching a bit of tv. It was just what I needed.

By Saturday morning I was feeling a bit better, and was looking forward to parkrun after missing the previous week. I opted for the parkrun sandwich to get a few extra miles in, but had no plans for how I would run parkrun itself. What with taking a little time off after the marathon and a couple of other weeks where I was running a bit easier because of other events, I felt like I had forgotten how to run fast (for me). We are still on an alternative course due to council works on the regular route and I set off at a fairly steady pace. While I’m nowhere near the sub-24 form I like to be in as I head into the summer, I was pleased to find that my 24:46 was the fastest I’ve run since late March and my fastest time over the alternative course. At least I’m making progress!

And check out the consistent pace over the first 3 miles. If I hadn’t speeded up at the end it would have been a straight line!

Afterwards, I refuelled with a delicious bacon croissant before getting the food shopping then was able to have a really relaxing afternoon to recharge a bit.

Sunday morning I got myself organised at a fairly leisurely pace then headed off for an 8 miles run. It was quite bright when I left so I had my sunglasses on, but wouldn’t you know it, as soon as I was at the furthest point from home it began raining. And when I say raining, I mean like Florida afternoons in the summer. Huge, fat drops hurtling towards the ground at a rate of knots and me in a pair of shorts and a T-shirt! I sheltered under a tree to text Steve and ask him to stick some dry stuff at the front door for me to put on when I got back and really struggled to write the message as the rain hitting the screen kept typing extra letters and making bizarre predictive text choices! I managed in the end, then didn’t need the dry things after all as the rain stopped and I had dried out by the time I got home. Typical!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We had been invited to a barbecue so once we were organised we headed out there for a bit. On the way there was thunder (!) and the rain was back on, but luckily it didn’t last too long and it ended up being quite good fun – yummy food, friendly company and a photo scavenger hunt to provide a bit of a laugh. Good times!

Finally, we dropped in to see my parents and catch up over a cup of tea and slice of cake before it was time to head home and get ready for the new week.

Tell me something fun you’ve done recently.
What are your summer goals?